What to Do if Your Car is Totaled

Thankfully in most cases, a car accident does not mean the end for your vehicle. But what about those times when it does? What happens when your car is totaled in an accident? You may be feeling stressed about having been involved in an accident and you will certainly be inconvenienced by not having your vehicle – nevertheless, there are some important steps to follow once it has been determined that your car is a total loss.

What does it mean when your car is totaled?

In some cases, it will be obvious when a car is “totaled” but in other cases, it may appear that the vehicle is fixable so it may come as a shock to hear that your car is a complete loss. But the way in which the label “totaled” is applied to a car is fairly simple – it is when your insurance adjuster has determined that the cost to repair the car is greater than the market value of the car before the accident.

Instead of paying to have your vehicle fixed, comprehensive and collision coverage are used to help compensate the car owner or lender for the vehicle.

What if I disagree with my insurance provider about the value of my car?

In most cases, your insurance adjuster’s assessment of your car’s value will be fairly accurate. Remember that their full-time job is analyzing the auto market. In some cases, however, you might be able to challenge them – for example, you may have kept your vehicle in exceptionally good condition or if you are driving a limited edition vehicle which your adjustor may not realize the full value of.

If you do decide to challenge your insurance company, just make sure you do it early on in the process and be prepared to back your claim with proof such as maintenance records etc.

Steps to take if your car is damaged in an accident

Before you can receive compensation from your insurance company, there are a number of steps you will need to take:

  • Call your insurance company to begin the claims process.
  • Have your vehicle inspected at an auto body repair shop.
  • Receive an estimate from the auto body shop for the cost of parts and labour.
  • At this point, your insurance provider will determine whether your vehicle is indeed totaled.
  • If your vehicle is a total loss, your insurance company will send you a check for the determined value of your vehicle minus the amount of your deductible.

What if I still have a loan on my car?

If you still owe money on your vehicle, you will likely have to work out with your lender on how your insurance company should release the funds. In most cases, your lender will be paid first with any additional money going to you.

If you owe more money than is paid by the insurance company, you are still responsible to the lender for any additional funds owing.

Taking the next steps after totaling a car isn’t fun but if you keep a level head you’ll be on your way toward a replacement vehicle in no time.